"Dearest Mother - June 15th, 1913
I know our correspondence has been short for over a year now. Since Daddy died and his funeral in Europe…I know our relationship has lacked even more so than it usually does. I really wish, though, that would you take the plunge and come visit us in New York. Harry really would like to meet you…"
I groaned at how that read. This letter sounds awful! And the dearest mother bit? I've never called my mother dearest before, so why would I start a letter like that? I sound like I've been drinking. I sighed, staring at the letter in my hand. Dearest Mother. That aside, I thought it appropriate to write her. I know I did immediately after the wedding, against my better judgement. But, I think it's now become a habit of her's to forget I ever existed and merely tell everyone I died on the RMS Titanic. And in some way, she's right. I suppose a little part of me did die on that ship, but in another way—a part of me didn't.
I ran a hand through my hair. Either way, thinking back, she wasn't too thrilled that I married what she called a poor man's excuse for a sailor, and I quote, but I think she's gotten over it. She has to. I'm not going to divorce the love of my life. She gave up trying to convince me of anything once I told her my father really liked Harry. That must've said something in her mind, because she hasn't called him anything inappropriate, except for his name and "that husband of yours" for a little over a year now.
And sure, staring at the letter now, I realize I'm lying. I really don't want to see her. But, I'm surprisingly not lying about Harry wanting to meet my mother. We've been writing each other for a few months now, at his request, as strange as that may sound and he laughs out loud when I read the letters aloud to him. It's become almost a favorite pastime of ours. And even when I didn't want to write her, he convinced me to. When I asked him why he wasn't writing the damn letters himself, he left for work. Men.
Anyhow, there was a slight miscommunication when we moved into our house, a beautiful country farmhouse outside of New York City, about three or four months after we got married. The letters got lost, but they managed to find their way to me. Like they always do. My mother managed to hunt me down. I ran a hand through my hair, staring at the letter. I don't even want to read the whole letter through now. I hate the way I started it, but I am sure as Hell not going to rewrite it. Oh, well. If she doesn't like, that's just too bad.
"…I know how much you hate to travel, Mother, and I know you don't particularly like Harry, but he is my husband and we love each other. I'm sure you would love him once you got the chance to know him. He is the sweetest man I have ever known. Daddy really liked Harry, but I know you know that.
Anyhow, Thomas is wonderful! I never thought I could love someone as much as I love him. He is the happiest little human being I have ever seen in my entire life and when he smiles, his eyes twinkle. . I need to get his photograph taken so you can see what he looks like. He really has Dad's eyes—"
Try finishing a sentence with a new baby. Well, he's not really all that new. He's almost four months old now, but he's still my baby. He's crying. From the other room, he's practically wailing. And yes, I can't even believe I have a baby now. It seems too unreal. Harry and I are now responsible for another life. Maybe my mother should take him. The thought that Harry and I have a baby, the fact that we can be so irresponsible sometimes makes my stomach churn.
I placed the letter down and standing up, went for the nursery. Where's Harry when I need him? I went down the hallway and took a left into the last room. He's still crying, but as soon as I leaned over his crib, he amazingly just stopped crying. He never has done that before. I picked him up and kissing his head, I smiled at him. Maybe he just wanted to be held. Can't say I blame him.
"Hi, baby," I said softly. He stared at me, a monotone expression as I wiped his eyes and nose with my handkerchief. He hiccuped and I began to laugh. He giggled himself. He sounds so much like Harry when he laughs, those two have the exact same smile…but his eyes. My father's eyes. He really has them. They gleam. And it's no question why Harry and I had named him after my father. We had agreed on it unanimously as soon as we had laid eyes on him. Oh, and my father. He would love to see his grandson. More than not, I'm sure he would love to see how happy I am now.
I opened up his bureau drawer and pulled out my father's notebook before sitting down in the rocking chair Harry had bought me when I was maybe two months along. White wicker, with hand-painted flowers, its' nice and big. Just as rocking chairs should be. I flipped to maybe ten pages from the beginning and rocking him, I held the book up so I could see it.
"Now, Thomas," I said, "this was your grandfather's. You're named after him." I sighed happily as he smiled up at me. "And sure, you can't understand me. But, you will. Eventually." I laughed at the desperation in my voice. When I first found out of our new family member, I had, by then, read my father's notebook entirely through and then again. Once Thomas was born, I decided that his notebook was better reading material than any lullaby. Lullabies, Harry decided, was his territory, anyway. But, I decided that since he was named after my father, he might as well know what a true, kindhearted person my father really was. "Alright, let's see. February twenty-first seems to be short but sweet." I pointed at the page and Thomas looked completely intrigued as he reached for the leather cover. "How about this?" He smiled, but more than not, he smiled at the book and the prospect of chewing on it. "Alright, I'll take that as a yes!" I straightened the page as I balanced him on my left arm. All bullets, of course. But, notes just the same. "Met the Captain the White Star Line hired this morning," I read aloud. "Seems to be quite a nice man, very qualified, perhaps overqualified…" I laughed out loud, merely because he had underlined overqualified a few times to merely emphasize his point. "But, he was the Captain of the Olympic, so I have complete faith in him." I went to the next bullet. "…Met the Chief Officer. Murdoch, William. Seemed like a nice man. Also overqualified." I smiled.
He thought everyone was overqualified, even woman-less Will. God rest his soul. But, he wasn't Chief Officer. Henry Wilde was. Did my father write this down incorrectly? It seems impossible—if he wrote something down, he wrote it down correctly. He was never a man of too many mistakes. I'll have to ask Harry when he comes home…
"Love?" Harry's voice pulled me out of the book as I turned around slightly in the rocking chair to see him in the doorway of the nursery. I smiled. Perfect timing.
"Was Will Chief Officer?" I asked him.
"Was Will the Chief Officer on Titanic?" Harry shook his head, taking off his coat and gently placing it over the changing table.
"No, Wilde was. Then again, the order was…" He stopped and raised an eyebrow at me. "Wait, why?" He then smiled. "Oh, you're reading the notebook again, aren't you?"
"You might say that." He smiled even wider than before. "You know, it calms him!"
"Your voice calms him. It doesn't matter what you say." He kissed me on the head and then on the lips as I shut the book. He gave Thomas a quick kiss on the forehead and him, being completely awake, went to grab Harry's nose. "Hey, you," he laughed, taking Thomas's little hand with his index finger.
"You're not working?" I asked, raising an eyebrow as I held out the book for him to take.
"Can't you be happy to see me without questioning?" he joked, glancing away from the baby to me. I shook my head.
"No, I guess not. I nag."
"You don't nag," he reassured me, "you ask."
"Oh, that's comforting."
"I got the afternoon off. Nice day, the big cheese said. Go see that kid of yours." He paused. "…And that lovely wife of yours."
"Well, that was nice of him." I kissed him quickly on the cheek. "But, he's wrong."
"How's he wrong?" he questioned.
"I'm not lovely."
"True. You're gorgeous, incredible, amazing…" He kissed me a few times on the cheek and I began to laugh. I'm going to drop the baby!
"Harry, refrain!" I laughed as he put his forehead to mine, Thomas's little hand still wrapped around Harry's finger. "Here, do something useful. Can you get Birdie for me? I forgot to get it." That damn seagull that Harry just had to name. I don't know how he talked me into buying it, but Thomas adores it. Its' his favorite stuffed animal and even in my arms, he just loves to cuddle with him. Besides, Birdie is awfully cute, and soft, and adorable…but I can't admit it to Harry.
"Sure." He stood up and went to the crib, digging for it. There are so many toys in that crib, I think we went a little overboard. Then again, he's our baby and since we're first-time parents, I think we're allowed to go overboard. A second later, Harry handed it to me over my shoulder and I tilted the seagull's head, as if he was alive. Thomas giggled in delight as I made the seagull give him a kiss on the cheek. He laughed even more so than before. He kneeled down to face us and smiled happily. "If he isn't Thomas Andrews's grandson, I don't know who is."
"We can't keep him away from water, no matter how hard we try," I laughed. "Oh, Thomas, Thomas, Thomas…" I mused, my voice trailing off.
"Thomas Andrews-Lowe." I glanced at Harry, leaning back into the chair once more. "Antoinette." He looked up from the baby to me. "I'm so glad we named him after your father." I smiled.
"I think the name suits him."
"I think so, too." And my father…I sighed, closing my eyes momentarily.
"God," I breathed, "I wish he was here to see him." Harry stared at me, sadness filling his eyes.
"He's around," he tried to reassure me. And I suppose he's right. No, I know he's right. My father's around. Whenever I read that notebook out loud to Thomas, I feel as if I'm with him again. And without him, I know I never would've met Harry, I know all of these incredible things wouldn't have happened to me. Even though it's been over a year since I last saw him, it really doesn't feel like it's been that long. I lost him, though. I know that. But only physically. It took me a long time to realize that. I lost him as a person, I didn't lose what made him precisely him, what made Thomas Andrews tick.
What I knew of my father, what Harry knew of him, what my father and I had done during my childhood—from the summer house to the time it took to build Titanic, Thomas will know of his grandfather. I'll make sure of it.
"Hey," he whispered to me, nuzzling my cheek with his nose. I nodded at him. "Want to have another one?" I stared at him, eyes wide. Is he serious? He's the one who didn't have to struggle for two days trying to deliver him…do I want to do that again? Not really. Do I want to deal with the morning sickness, not being able to eat, not being able to fit into my clothes?
"No." We said it at the same time and found ourselves laughing. Thomas began to giggle himself and we both looked down at him. He looked over at Harry and then to me.
"I think one's enough," he told me, with a nod.
"Either way, it's incredible." I raised an eyebrow at him.
"We did that." He gestured to Thomas before smiling at me. "Can you believe it?"
"No." I laughed at myself, for the tone of my voice sounded so amazed at it all.
"Me, either," he answered truthfully. "But, as parents…" Oh, God, not again. I groaned.
"We are not telling him how we met, Harry," I told him, trying not to laugh. "We've been over this how many times now?" When Thomas is older, Harry wants to tell him how we met, oh so badly. And frankly, I think the less he knows, the better.
"Well, we talked about it last week, a few Saturday's ago…" he said, beginning to count on his fingers.
"I didn't mean literally!" He smiled at me.
"But, why not?" he probed. "It's awfully romantic."
"Sure, it's as romantic as peeling wallpaper."
"Oh, come on, Antoinette!" he laughed. I rolled my eyes at him.
"Can you imagine the conversation? He comes home twenty years from now. Mom, I just met the love of my life. On a boat." I paused for emphasis. "And then I'll have to say: Son, you are not going to marry that woman you met on the boat." He laughed.
"And then he can say, but you and Dad…"
"But, it was a different time, I'd tell him. The world was crazy—"
"And I couldn't resist a man in uniform." We chuckled at our own humor.
"Besides, I think this little one's going to be a lot like his mother." I raised an eyebrow.
"And what's that supposed to mean?" He leaned in closer to me, as Thomas dropped his father's hand. I giggled.
"It means he's going to give us a run for our money."
"Just like his mother?" I questioned, raising an eyebrow. As if I'm the troublemaker in this situation. He nodded, kissing me.
"Just." A kiss. "Like." Another kiss. "His mother."
…So sad to see the story end, but I think I ended it appropriately. I really grew to love both Antoinette, Harry and of course I already loved Thomas Andrews. I really didn't want to end it! Anyhow, I'd like to thank everyone that has been reading the story of Antoinette Andrews since the first day I posted and of course, to everyone who took time out of their busy lives and schedules to review as of Friday, May 18th, 2007, when I'm typing this up: (in no particular order) Grown and Sexy, overactive imagination, Anne Becker, CoCaInE CoWgIrL, Assassinated Dreams, doctor's gal 1792, and shariena. Thank you so much and I hope I didn't miss anyone! The reviews really helped me conquer my ever-constant writer's block and really gave me the push I needed to write more. And of course, to the people who put the story on their alert/favorite lists (for both the story and me as an author), that made me so happy, so thanks to you, too! Really, I was giddy with excitement—you have no idea! Well, it's been a fun ride and as of right now, this is the final installment of the happy couple. I hope you enjoyed it (the reader) as much as I enjoyed writing it. Keep checking back—I may be working on a new story right now. You just never know with me.
— The Author (Gina)